It used to be fairly easy to open an account – you could walk into a store, complete the documents, provide two references, and you received your card. Closing one’s account was just as simple.
Today an account can be opened online, but fairly sensitive documents have to be submitted, such as a copy of your identity document and bank statements. And the process may take longer.
But Edcon really does want to ensure that you are issued with a store card, and will assist with any problem.
After all, you are more likely to purchase that must-have (and usually unnecessary item) when you don’t have to dole out the cash. Store cards also find enticing ways to attract new members – such as offering R1 750 in Edgars vouchers if you join Edgars Club, which offers various benefits such as a 50% discount on movie tickets.
Account holders can create a profile on the Edgars website, allowing them to stay up to date about the exciting offerings, and it has a helpline with set questions. You have been sucked in.
And that’s where the helpfulness ends
Unbeknown to many Edgars account holders, the store card business, which was previously owned by Absa, now belongs to and is managed by RCS, which is part of the BNP Paribas group.
Monthly charges amounting to R93 are added to Edgars store card accounts.
This pays for the Edgars Club membership, credit insurance, plus a service charge. In comparison, the monthly charge on Ackermans accounts is R20.
But now you want to cancel your Edgars card. Sadly, helplines and store websites are geared more towards hooking the customer than helping them break free.
And pity the customer who is running out of airtime or the means to purchase more, because they are going to have to make a few calls …
‘Cancel’ is a word of great clarity and yet …
If ‘Cancel Edgars account’ is searched online, the unhelpful reply is: “Kindly furnish us your account or ID number so that we may liaise with the accounts team regarding the account closure request. Alternatively kindly be advised that the matter may be sent directly to the accounts team for actioning.”
No time frames within which Edgars and RCS should action anything are laid down.
You can call a few Edgars/Edcon/RCS helplines to obtain your final balance, pay it immediately, and inform whoever answers the helpline that you want to cancel your card – but no one can tell you what the process is.
Meanwhile, your account will be debited with the monthly charges even though there is a nil balance. If you innocently signed a debit order, your bank account will continue to be debited.
You can log onto hellopeter.com (a consumer advocacy and corporate reputation management website) and add your voice to the growing list of complaints made by desperate Edgars customers trying to cancel their store cards.
It is unfortunate, they say
When contacted by Moneyweb for comment, RCS CEO Regan Adams replied as follows: “It is unfortunate that Edgars and Jet store card customers are experiencing difficulties closing their accounts following the closure of a complex Edcon business rescue process and challenging systems account migration. We sincerely apologise for their frustration and inconvenience, and ask that they bear with us as we address these issues.”
And then the hook: “We are committed to resolving these issues and know that both Retailability and The Foschini Group have some exciting future plans for the Edgars and Jet stores.”
Adams continued: “For those Edgars and Jet store card holders who would still like to close their accounts, they can follow this relatively simple process. Customers that have additional value-added services such as Club or insurance products must remember to cancel these separately. RCS does not manage these services, they are completely separate, however these value-added services are reflected on the overall billing on the account.”
The cancellation process for Edgars and Jet store card holders is as follows:
- Obtain a settlement quote by dialling the RCS call centre (0860 111 826 for Edgars and 0860 111 881 for Jet) and using the self-service function, or this can be done in-store at customer services.
- Pay the outstanding amount on the settlement quote via EFT or in-store within five days of receiving the quote.
- Email proof of payment to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Cancel all additional value-added services such as cellphone insurance and Edgars Club subscriptions.
The first problem with this “relatively simple process”?
For starters, it seems that point 4 above should in fact be done first. You need to cancel all of those additional value-added services before you will be able to close your account.
Cancel those value-added services
To do this, Jet customers can call 0860 113 639.
Edgars customers will however need to call any (or all) of the relevant numbers:
- Edgars Club – 086 100 0140
- Edgars CPI Insurance (policy administration and claims) – 087 820 2024
- Edgars Cellphone Insurance – 0860 346 748
- Edgars Life Products/Insurance – 0860 111 343
- Edgars Dental Insurance – 0860 033 266
- Edgars Legal – 0800 453 425
- Edgars Home Protect – 0861 113 437
- Cancelling airtime must be done in-store.
In reality, many of the above options loop back to the annoying “Welcome to customer care …” voice recording
Edgars and Jet can’t do it for you
A desperate pensioner said: “Customer inquiries said that they will escalate the request to close the Edgars Club – [and that it] is not possible to do both [cancel the club membership and close the account at the same time].”
‘Inquiries’ will first ‘escalate’ the request to cancel the club membership. The hapless customer then has to wait five days or so, and “should get an SMS advising that the club membership has been closed”.
The customer may now call the relevant Edgars/Jet RCS number and ask for the account to be closed, at which stage they will be given the ‘closing account amount payable’.
But beware – paying this amount does not necessarily mean that the account has been closed. The account may just have been settled, to the point that it now has a nil balance. The monthly service charge will however continue to be levied, meaning that the pleasing ‘nil’ balance won’t stay at zero for long.
It would seem the onus is on the customer to receive written confirmation from RCS that their account has been closed.
This should of course not be necessary, but from the number of complaints it is clear that something has been going wrong.
Is RCS closing its eyes to an obvious problem?
Could it be that in the time between the customer making the payment and the payment actually reflecting on the account – a process said to take ‘ages’ – a new service fee charge may have been levied?
Could this be how these so-called ‘closed’ accounts mysteriously reactivate themselves?
If a customer believes that their nil balance together with their request that the account be closed means their account has indeed been closed, they won’t think to check the balance the following month, or the next …
Those monthly service charges will be adding up. Next thing, the customer who believes they no longer have an Edgars or Jet account will be informed that they had better pay their outstanding balance – or else.
It should be emphasised that in addition to jumping through the numerous hoops outlined above, customers would be well-advised to get RCS to confirm – in writing – that their account has been closed.
Or perhaps better still, refer to the old adage about cash being king.
Why is it all so backward?
Edcon and RCS should learn from online subscription services such as DStv, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, which a customer can switch on and off at will.
If DStv can see an online payment, why can’t RCS? Why the need to email proof of payment?
And why should a customer have to pay insurance and service fees for the pleasure of being ‘hooked’ in as a loyal repeat customer?
During this Covid-19 cash crunch period, there are no doubt many consumers trying to pay off large accounts and cancel their store cards.
Retailers should gear themselves towards assisting consumers during this stressful time. If they don’t, they will lose those customers forever – thereby putting their profitability and sustainability at risk.